The World’s Most Lightweight Microskiffs
Wavewalk’s S4 Cartop Microskiff and W700 Kayak-skiff offer these important advantages –
- Transportation – Both W700 and S4 are easy for one person to car top and neither requires a trailer for transportation. Without a motor, the s4 weighs 100 lbs and the W700 weighs 80 lbs.
- Comfort and Balancing – Both skiffs feature a personal watercraft (jet-ski) saddle seat that offers optimal ergonomics and the ability to change positions while enjoying the best balancing capability. Both can be outfitted with swivel seats.
- Paddling – The W700 performs better as a fishing paddle craft than any tandem kayak or canoe, both solo or tandem, and the S4 is a remarkable paddle craft for up to three paddlers, and it works even for one paddler. This means that their users can always access shallow water and no-motor zones without any problem, and never get stranded.
- Stability – The W700 is more stable than any large size fishing kayak, and the S4 is more stable than skiffs that are considerably bigger.
- Seaworthiness – The S4 can be driven at full throttle offshore and in choppy water, which makes it more seaworthy than many bigger skiffs.
- Load capacity – The W700 can accommodate two anglers and their fishing gear, and the S4 can accommodate between two and three anglers. All people who fish out of these small skiffs can fish standing.
- Light Weight and Portability – The W700 weighs 80 lbs without motor and accessories, and the S4 weighs 98 lbs without motor and accessories. This makes both of them easy to carry over long distances and over rough terrain, and launch practically anywhere their owners want to.
- Shallow Draft – Both W700 and S4 are lighter than other skiffs, so they draft less, which makes them capable of going in skinny water and outperform other flats fishing boats.
- Modularity and Versatility – A W700 and S4 skiff can be easily attached to other W700 and S4 skiffs, and thus form motorized multi-boat platforms that are extremely stable and seaworthy. An S4x3 multi boat can take up to eight full size fishermen and their fishing gear on board. Disconnecting the skiffs from each other is easy, and once they’re no longer attached, they because autonomous again, for paddling as well as motorizing.
- Casting Front Deck – The S4 microskiff features a front deck that serves as a stand-up casting platform for one angler. Other anglers on board the S4 can stand comfortably in its spacious and dry cockpit.
1. The Wavewalk® S4 Cartop Micro Skiff
Wavewalk introduced the S4 in the spring of 2017. Since then the S4 redefined microskiffs, by offering unrivaled portability (cartop boat) and unmatched seaworthiness, as well as high performance and comfort for a crew of one to three anglers.
The S4 is a most seaworthy microskiff –
High speed motor kayak in the ocean chop with a 9.8 HP motor:
Speed comparison of S4 microskiff powered by a 5 HP vs 9.8 HP outboard motor:
Wavewalk S4 Microskiff in blue water (under-powered with a 3.5 HP outboard)-
S4 micro skiff driven behind a big boat, regardless of the chop generated by the boat’s wake –
Wavewalk S4 Basic Tech Specs
Total Length: 13 ft, Beam (Total Width): 38″, Height: 17″, Payload (Total Carrying Capacity): 650 lbs, Recommended Outboard Motor: 6 HP, Total Number of Passengers: 3 adults, sitting or standing, Construction (Material): Rotationally Molded High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
2. The Wavewalk® 700 (W700) Kayak-Microskiff
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The W700 weighs just 80 lbs, which makes easy to cartop and carry, even for one person.
The W700 is the world’s most stable and comfortable solo & tandem kayak out there, for touring and fishing, and its on board storage space is many times bigger that that of any large size kayak.
The W700 is not the high-performance and seaworthy motorboat that the S4 is, but it is a practical, reliable, versatile and most enjoyable entry-level microskiff that performs well over flats, lakes, marshes, etc., and in mild chop.
What is a microskiff? We found several definitions, but typically, a microskiff is a small, lightweight, flat bottomed motorboat used for flats fishing as well as in protected bays, estuaries, lakes and slow moving rivers. The typical microskiff crew consists of two anglers, and sometimes one angler. The microskiff is said to have evolved from dinghies.
Small and lightweight in the case of typical microskiff means a boat that requires transportation by trailer, and therefore must be launched and beached at a boat ramp.
Microskiff Classes: Size, Portability, Mobility and Seaworthiness
1. Cartop Microskiff
These are the most lightweight microskiffs. A cartop microskiff weighs less than 100 lbs, which allows one person to cartop it on any vehicle. Some cartop microksiff owners carry it inside their minivan or large-size SUV. Cartop microskiffs are so lightweight that they can be carried by hand by two people, and dragged on the ground by one person even with their outboard motor installed. A cartop microskiff can be launched anywhere, and it allows its passengers to paddle effectively solo or in tandem, kayak style or canoe style. This makes these lightweight vessels totally mobile, most suitable for flats fishing, and practically immune to being stranded in water that’s too shallow for motorizing. Being the world’s most stable cartop microskiff, and due to the high free board it offers, the S4 is the only seaworthy cartop microskiff out there.
2. Ultralight Microskiff
These micrsokiffs are bigger, less portable, and less versatile than Cartop Microskiffs. A typical ultralight microskiff weighs over 150 lbs without its motor, and it can be transported on a pickup truck bed, but due to its weight, one person is prevented from car topping it. These microskiffs are hard to move over land without a large size wheel cart, and moving them over sand is not always possible. Their bigger size and weight make them almost impractical for paddling over meaningful distances. Most Ultralight Microskiff owners transport them on a trailers. Compared to bigger microskiffs, an ultralight microskiff may offer better mobility due to the fact that it doesn’t always require launching from a boat ramp, and it drafts less.
3. Full Size Microskiff
Unlike Ultralight Micrsokiffs, regular (full-size) microskiffs are not portable at all, so they require transportation by trailer and launching at boat ramps. Other shortcomings of this microskiff class are their bigger draft and the fact that paddling them is useless, so that their passengers are at risk of being stranded in very shallow water, and in water with abundant vegetation. The main advantages that microskiffs of this larger size present are better comfort, enhanced stability (on flat water), and higher speed. Many microskiffs feature a watchtower that offers a better vantage point for spotting fish. These towers are popular among anglers who practice sight fishing.
The Microskiff Propulsion Problem
Microskiff are made to be propelled primarily by outboard motors, and they are too wide and heavy to allow for paddling. This is problematic for a number of reasons –
To begin with, an outboard motor can run out of gas or stall due to a technical problem, and an electric trolling motor that a microskiff may have on board isn’t enough for effective traveling over longer distances.
More importantly, both outboard gas motors and electric trolling motors use propellers that must be completely immersed in water a couple of inches below the surface. The result is that the effective draft of a microskiff is not particularly shallow, and often too high for very shallow water, a.k.a “skinny water”.
This problem also limits the typical microskiff in terms of potential launching and beaching locations, and this means that you must perform these operations at a boat ramp, which is a major source of frustration over a lot of wasted fishing time.
To add insult to injury, propellers don’t do well in the presence of aquatic vegetation, be it seaweed, grass, etc. This is particularly frustrating for anglers who know that such waters are among the best fisheries.
Human Powered Propulsion – Poling, Anyone?
Microskiff manufacturers often show pictures of people who use a long push-pole to propel their microskiff through shallow water. This human powered mode of propulsion is indeed possible, but it’s not very practical –
To begin with, poling involves long intervals between each pole push, so the big effort invested in each push that accelerates the boat goes to waste when the boat decelerates while you are busy lifting the pole and sticking it back into the water. Acceleration is particularly demanding in energy terms, and in other words, the fact that microskiff are wide and heavy makes them lose speed quickly, and thereby drain your energy in a short time.
Few people can push a typical microskiff over a distance of more than several hundred yards, and this is not enough in terms of real-world fishing.
On top of this, the hull of a typical microskiff is not designed for effective tracking – It’s neither very long nor narrow, and it lacks elements such as fins, skegs or tunnels that may improve its directional stability. The result is that poling such a boat in a straight line becomes harder, which means you waste an additional and considerable amount of energy and time because your microskiff zigzags instead of going forward in a straight line.
Poling is far from being on par with more effective means of human powered propulsion such paddling and even rowing.
1. A better microskiff must allow its crew to go in shallow water and vegetation rich water in a human-powered propulsion mode other than poling and preferably not rowing, since effective rowing requires good technique that can be acquired only through much practice. This leaves paddling as the human-powered propulsion of choice, and therefore, a truly versatile and functional microskiff is required to offer its crew to use it easily and comfortably as a paddle craft.
2. A better microskiff must allow its user to go in choppy water and in the ocean.